'Silence is Golden… but Not On-Hold' States OHMA Chairman

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Mike Edwards, Chairman of OHMA, the On Hold Messaging Association, has several tips on successfully utilizing a business telephone's 'on hold' time. Edwards looks at the various possibilities a business could choose for an on-hold solution and analyzes each. The On Hold Messaging Association is currently holding their ninth annual international conference in Atlanta, (March 19 - 21, 2009) at the Renaissance Concourse Hotel Atlanta Airport.

The problem with silence is that the caller is not sure if the call was disconnected. Many will hang up when they don't hear anything, and some of those callers may not call back. No one wants to lose business due to hang-ups, so it's clear you need to have something on hold.

Mike Edwards, Chairman of OHMA, the On Hold Messaging Association, has several tips on successfully utilizing a business telephone's 'on hold' time.    Edwards looks at the various possibilities a business could choose for an on-hold solution and analyzes each. He states "No matter how hard you try to avoid it, if you have a successful business, you more than likely have to put some callers on hold. Whether it's to look up pricing, check on availability, the status of their order, or to ask a question of someone, it's unavoidable. Sometimes it seems as though your callers conspire to call your business at the same time! The question is what to do with the time that your callers are waiting."

According to Edwards, one option is to do nothing and have silence. He says "The problem with silence is that the caller is not sure if the call was disconnected. Many will hang up when they don't hear anything, and some of those callers may not call back. No one wants to lose business due to hang-ups, so it's clear you need to have something on hold."

OHMA's Chairman went on to say a second option would be to play a radio station for them. However, "There are a couple of drawbacks with this solution. First, you could actually be playing one of your competitor's commercials on the radio to your callers while they're on hold at your business! You could also be broadcasting the topic of the day that may not reflect a positive image for your company. From a technical point of view, many times when a radio is installed in your phone room, it does not get good reception and can cause static. Then there are the royalty fees you must pay. Royalty fees, you say? That's right. When you profit from playing someone's music for a business purpose, the artists and producers want to be paid."

Another option Edwards mentions is to play music using a CD player or mp3 player. "Keep in mind that you must still pay the licensing fees to do so, and the fines can be very expensive."

Edwards' most preferred option would be to have a professionally recorded message with music blended throughout. 'This is becoming a very popular trend around the world, and it's a smart solution for your callers. You have a captive audience. Why not tell your callers why they should do business with you, why your product or service is better than your competitor's? It seems to make the time on hold pass faster, much like a magazine or a television does in a physician's waiting room. If you are absorbing information, a two-minute hold time seems like 20 seconds. Your callers can learn about a service or product that they weren't aware of.' He also says that if it is done properly, the on-hold recording can create an impression that your business is professional, stable and that you are one of the best in your industry.

There are literally hundreds of message-on-hold providers around the world. How do you choose the right one? According to Edwards 'The On-Hold Messaging Association's website at http://www.ohma.org has a list of criteria to look for in selecting a provider. Since Association members are screened for membership, be sure to ask if your potential provider is a member.' Edwards says this ensures the company is a quality provider and adheres to the Association's strict ethical guidelines. You can verify that a provider is a member of the Association by looking for the OHMA logo on the provider's website and clicking on the verification seal.' Edwards concluded by stressing that OHMA is not a referring agency for service providers but an association promoting strict standards of ethical business conduct for members.

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